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More Middle-Aged Adults Entering Triathlons

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Casual athletes with little to no race experience are entering triathlons in record numbers.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Casual athletes with little to no race experience are entering triathlons in record numbers.

The US Triathlon Association reports that nearly 2 million people participated in a multi-sport race in 2012. The fastest growing group of runners is between 35 and 45 years old.

Lynn Johnson began running and bicycling in her mid thirties. A friend of hers sparked her interest in triathlons and she has been hooked on the sport ever since.

"I started training and did the first one and loved it," Johnson said. "It's a little less boring than just running or just biking."

In the 18 months she's been training, Johnson has run five sprint-length triathlons.

"People like me who are not excessively athletic are getting interested," Johnson said. "It's one of those sports where you don't feel out of place if you're not an elite athlete."

Many sporting goods stores offer assistance for beginners. Mary Goss-Crowson of Ridge Runner Sports routinely advises runners of various skill levels on their stride and foot structure.

Goss-Crowson said triathlons and other individual sports appeal to more and more people who want to achieve fitness goals at their own pace.

"People want that," she said. "I think it's more fun to achieve that outside than inside a gym."

Crowson can tell by the way a person walks whether they need specialized shoes or inserts. She uses a video monitoring system and a treadmill to offer walking and running advice to her customers.

"A running store can certainly analyze your gait," she said. "I think it's important to know that anyone can do a sprint triathlon."

Goss-Crowson advised caution for athletes-in-training who were new to cycling or biking. She said both sports are more hazardous than running.

Swimming in particular can pose dangers to new racers who lack experience swimming in lakes or other large bodies of water.

She said first time triathletes should stick to the pool.

Johnson agreed, saying that her first triathlon used an indoor lap pool. She said many race organizations are making it easier for beginners to enter races.

"In some of the triathlons I've been in there are people who are as young as 11 or 12 years old," Johnson said. "And everywhere in between and at all fitness levels."e dangers to new racers who lack experience swimming in lakes or other large bodies of water.

She said first time triathletes should stick to the pool.

Johnson agreed, saying that her first triathlon used an indoor lap pool. She said many race organizations are making it easier for beginners to enter races.

"In some of the triathlons I've been in there are people who are as young as 11 or 12 years old," Johnson said. "And everywhere in between and at all fitness levels."

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